By: Barry Barnes, Founder/Senior Writer
Well, Week Two of the NFL training camps had at least one similarity with Week One, players sustaining season-ending injuries. Before players had a chance to express themselves physically against their opposing opponent, ten players will miss the 2013 season due to injuries they sustained during training camp.
Despite the bumps and bruises and the great action surrounding camps thus far, the story of Week Two came by the way – of a word.
Philadelphia Eagles’ wide receiver Riley Cooper was caught on video intoxicated at a Kenny Chesney (country music recording artist) concert inside Lincoln Financial Field, where the Eagles showcase their contests, on June 8 as he threatened an African American security guard echoing the comment heard around the world: “I will jump that fence and fight every nigger here, bro.”
To make a long story short, the controversial n-word is accepted in the African-American culture, no matter what the community leaders say or adjust, as the noun isn’t used necessarily in a negative light upon each other.
However, when anyone from another race, especially a Caucasian, drops the n-bomb, it’s always used in an offensive way, as a racial slur, to African-Americans because of how whites expressed the word towards blacks, in a degrading way, during slavery.
The Eagles’ organization quickly responded to Cooper’s remark and dealt with the situation.
“In meeting with Riley yesterday, we decided together that his next step will be to seek outside assistance to help him fully understand the impact of his words and actions. He needs to reflect. As an organization, we will provide the resources he needs to do so,” stated the organization in a released statement Aug 1.
“Riley Cooper made us aware of the tweets when the video became public. He told us that he did not know about the video. He informed us he blocked the tweets because he did not know the person nor understand the context of what that person was threatening. We promptly alerted NFL Security. This information potentially speaks to a legal issue that is a matter between Riley and the authorities. Our focus has been on Riley’s words and actions.”
Cooper took responsibility of the situation by apologizing and took a leave of absence from the team to seek help. The talented receiver returned to Eagles’ training camp humbled by his actions and his teammates (majority who are African-American) welcomed him – but chapter two of this situation is still unwritten.
“We’ve accepted his apology,” said wide receiver Jason Avant. “The only thing he can do is apologize. “What else can he do?”
In other news…
The Cleveland Browns could be a quiet storm this season. With talent on both sides of the ball, the Browns should be a team on a rise. Quarterback Branden Weeden has the heart and intelligence to lead the offense with a hungry receiving core, and running back Trent Richardson being an archer. And newly acquired offensive coordinator Norv Turner is the right man to put the offense together.
Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who has the potential to be as great as former Baltimore Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis, is ready to take the next step to lead another solid AFC North defensive unit, and head coach Rob Chudzinski likes where they are.
“I like where we are,” said Chudzinski. “It’s always hard to tell when you are practicing against each other, until we get into the preseason games to give us a little better gage. I see progress in all areas. I like where the guys’ minds are right now. We are a hungry team. We improved from yesterday. What I talked about with those guys is it’s a matter of consistency. We need to do that every single day and come out with that approach to get better and we will.”
While the Browns are looking to become a contender, the New Orleans Saints are focus on regaining their championship pedigree after finishing last season 8-8, and losing head coach Sean Payton for the campaign because of his involvement in the bounty scandal, a situation where players, allegedly, targeted certain opposing players for money, if they were removed from the game.
Payton stated that things are a little different, but it’s normal after being away for a year.
“I think it was pretty normal. I said this before, a few months ago, the biggest challenge was being away and having that interaction outside of football (based on) the idea that you can’t communicate with anybody in the NFL, any player or any coach,” said Payton. “That was the biggest change. But from a football stand point more than anything was getting up to speed with some of the nuances and changes.
“The other thing that was different or a little bit more different than I expected (is that) your roster changes 15, 16, 18 percent a year. So you come back to two (draft) classes, (and) two free agent classes. Overall the interaction you have with people you work with every day and not having that was unusual and a little difficult.”
Apparently, Payton’s absence was a blessing in disguise as he was able to observe his team from a distance and now he understands what he must implement into his system so the Saints can be more effective.
“Those things go hand in hand. You want to have balance and yet it’s hard to do if you’re behind,” said Payton. “You want to control the clock and time of possession and yet you’re giving up big plays and not playing well on defense. All those things lead to more challenging snaps, more third downs and less opportunities to run. They kind of fit hand in hand. I’ve said this a number of times, we have to play better complementary football.
“Each week understanding what it takes to win that game, defensively and offensively and in the kicking game,” he continued. “That can vary based on your opponent, it can change based on the how the game’s unfolding. I do think that opportunity to or that ability to control the game in the second half involves a run game. It’s just harder to do when you’re behind.”
Next up in the following weeks, preseason games gets underway. The Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolphins started things off as they competed in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
The Cowboys were victorious in that contest, and for the all-time preseason series against the Fins, who are sporting a new logo, Dallas are 6-2.
And for the Dolphins, they should never be scheduled to play in the Hall of Fame Game again as they are 0-4 for the showcase game.
Enjoy the matches and pull for the diamonds in the rough.
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